The World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved a first-of-its-kind, non-surgical circumcision device to forestall the spread of AIDS.

The device called PrePex is the only adult circumcision method, aside from conventional surgery, to gain WHO approval to date.

The nonsurgical circumcision device relies on a rubber band and was approved by the WHO recently, opening the way for its widespread use in Africa, The New York Times reported.

Dr. Eric P. Goosby, the US Global AIDS Coordinator, said that it would “truly help save lives” and that he was prepared to use funds from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief for it.

For a heterosexual man in countries where Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is common, being circumcised lowers the chance of contracting HIV or getting infected by the virus by about 60 per cent, according to the report.

The US has paid for more than two million circumcisions in Africa in the past few years. The WHO’s goal is 20 million by 2015. PrePex can be quickly put in place by a two-nurse team.

The foreskin dies from the pressure of the rubber band in a grooved ring, and drops off or is clipped off a week later, the report said.

The procedure uses only topical anaesthesia and is safer than surgery.